As a retired army officer and an adjunct history professor I thought it was important to review what I consider the best war movies depicting the challenges of leadership and the command of men.
"The Flying Leathernecks" is one of the best movies at depicting how a good leader puts the mission before his personal relationships, even when it involves friends. I always liked John Wayne in war movies more than in westerns. This movie is similar in theme to another of the “Duke’s” movie “In Harm’s Way.”
Major Daniel Kirby (John Wayne) takes command of a squadron of Marine fliers just before they are about to go into combat. While the men are well meaning, he finds them undisciplined and prone to always finding excuses to do what is easy rather than what is necessary. The root of the problem is the second in command, Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin Robert Ryan). Griff is the best flier in the group but Kirby finds him a poor commander who is not prepared to the difficult decision that all commanders have to make - to put men in harm's way knowing that they may be killed. This movie is great at depicting the importance of a leader serving as a mentor to prepare subordinates for increasing leadership responsibility.
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